Full-Time Bluesletter, Issue #002 - News, Reviews, & Concerts
August 01, 2009

Newsletter Exclusive:
CD Review: Willie McBlind - Bad Thing - Free Note Records 2009 – by Johnny Full-Time

Willie McBlind, the self professed Blues Psychedelic Rock band out of NYC come calling with their latest release, Bad Thing, on the Independent Free Note Records.

When you first press play on the album, you have to do a double take, because your first impulse will be to say that Bad Thing isn't a Blues album. The nine track disc starts up like a devilish jack in the box, slowly cranking up until it pops into "13 O' Clock Blues," an instrumental shuffle that will definitely have you dancing by the time it's reached its final note.

From there, you had better hold on tight, because it's a wild ride. Willie McBlind launch into the title track, followed by "Primo," with Jon Catler and Babe Borden's vocals layered in a very cool and spooky manner. It's the kind of Rock and Blues mash-up that The White Stripes flirt around with, but never seem to go steady with. Catler and Borden have dubbed it "Harmonic Blues," and you could dare say Hypnotic Blues would be an equally appropriate moniker.

It's all attributed to the tuning of the instruments that are played by Willie McBlind's band members. According to the limited research that I've done to better understand what I'm hearing when I listen to Willie McBlind, most music we all listen to uses what's called the Twelve Tone Equal Temperament system. Willie McBlind features instruments tuned in the 64-tone Just Intonation system, which provides players with an entirely new set of tones and notes that they can capture (if I'm understanding that correctly). The result is a sound that initially threw me off, but the deeper I got into Bad Thing, the more I understood and enjoyed.

Blind Willie Johnson's "Nobody's Fault But Mine" is the first of three covers on the disc, and was my first exposure to Willie McBlind. Catler growls the lyrics under Borden's sailing vocals, and the musicianship is arguably at it's best on the tune.

Other covers on the disc include Borden singing solo on Robert Johnson's "Stones In My Passway," along with Willie Dixon's "It Don't Make Sense (You Can't Make Peace)," which takes on an air of social commentary here, very well done. All three of the songs were arranged by Catler to fit the 64-tone Just Intonation system, as well as Willie McBlind's unique style.

The closer, "One Lucky Man," a lovely, drifting tune features guest vocals by Hugh Pool, and provides a beautiful end to this wild ride.

In conclusion, you likely don't have anything like Bad Thing in your collection, and honestly, had I not received this CD in the mail, it may have gone unnoticed by myself. You owe it to yourself to check out Willie McBlind, and to give Bad Thing a listen.

Standout Tracks: "13 O' Clock Blues," "Blood Moon," and "One Lucky Man"

 

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